Memoir by August Galeazzi
It was a Thursday, and time for lunch. Which means it was time for the weekly GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliance) meeting at my old high school. My friends Grayson, Mira, and I were the leaders. During these meetings we would talk about LGBT topics and events happening. We would also talk about any struggles a member is having. We were working on a big project for GSA but had not heard any updates for about a week. We started the meeting and the two teacher advisors said they had an announcement. At the staff meeting that morning, the Principal announced to the staff that one of the teacher bathrooms will be changed to a new gender neutral bathroom. We were all so excited. All of us worked so hard, and after months of meetings, reports, and a Day of Silence we got a second gender-neutral bathroom that would be open all the time instead of some of the time.
This is how the Mahtomedi High School GSA got our bathroom.
Before winter break, the leaders of GSA asked the others what we wanted to accomplish second semester. Many students, including me ,wanted a gender-neutral bathroom. After finals Grayson, Mira, and I decided we needed to start big by having a meeting with the Superintendent and the Principal. Two weeks after drafting, redrafting, and editing we sent a detailed email the Superintendent, we set a date for the meeting. We waited three weeks for this meeting. Once the day of the meeting came Grayson, Mira, Owen, who was also a member of GSA, the teacher advisor of a group called SAFE, and I sat in a classroom with the Superintendent and the Principal. We shared our stories about why we and many other students wanted a gender-neutral bathroom. They listened and told us that there was already a gender-neutral bathroom in the band hallway. We had no idea that there was a bathroom there, but we were now advocating a bathroom in each wing of the school. It can be awkward if you have to walk past a certain classroom to go to the bathroom. For some students it could even out someone and we did not want that. They said that they would think about it and would have another meeting in the future.
We soon realized that the bathroom in the band hallway was always locked. Grayson, Mira, and I could tell that the other students in GSA were getting frustrated, impatient, and anxious about having no progress or new information. We were kept trying to schedule meetings, but we could never find a date that match with all of our schedules. Eventually, we found a date and we met the with the Principal and Vice Principal. Throughout the past couple of months they had seen how much we needed this bathroom. We had reported many students for bullying and harassing us outside the doors of GSA, in class, in the hallways, outside the one gender-neutral bathroom that was locked most of the time, and even outside a practice room where we ate lunch to hide from the students in the cafeteria. Grayson, Mira, and I told them that because of the bullying all three of us were transferring to Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artist. They told us that we were brave for doing so much for the other students, and that a decision wasn’t made yet but would tell our advisors once they did.
In the end, we got a second gender-neutral bathroom next to the library. This experience has made my leadership skills grow by learning to communicate to people with authority. It has taught me how to advocate for people’s needs, and to not give up. I will never forget my sophomore year of high school. I will never be the same.